21 BOOKS I LOVED, 5 I LIKED, AND 3 I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND

If you’ve taken a peek at my 101 in 1001 list, you’ll know 1) the end of my current list is fast approaching and 2) I’m thisclose to reaching my goal of reading 30 new books. I’m currently halfway through this book which will be number 30! Since my list of beach books was one of my most pinned posts this summer, I thought I’d share 21 books I’ve loved, 5 books I’ve liked, and 3 books that just weren’t for me. I hope it helps you find a new read or two!

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20 books I loved

I’m a sucker for everything from an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller to a rah-rah self-help book. If you need a little motivation, I highly recommend So Good They Can’t Ignore You or How To Have A Good Day. If you’re in the mood to be scared out of your mind, Gone Girl and What She Knew both had my heart pounding. And if you just need a good laugh, Yes Please, Why Not Me?, and Man Repeller are all great picks.

  1. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  2. Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss
  3. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
  4. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  6. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  7. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  9. How to be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas
  10. Going Off Script by Giuliana Rancic
  11. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
  12. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  13. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  14. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  15. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  16. How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb
  17. What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
  18. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
  19. Man Repeller by Leandra Medine
  20. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
  21. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi

 

5 books I liked

These were books I enjoyed but wouldn’t make my most recommended list, whether because they felt a little redundant (Happier at Home) or dragged on longer than necessary (10% Happier and The After Party).

  1. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
  2. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
  3. 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  4. The After Party by Anton DiSclafani
  5. Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry

 

3 books I wouldn’t recommend

Of course I had high hopes for every book I cracked open (er, listened to on Audible) but nobody bats a thousand! I think Ellen is hilarious but I found this book a little dumbed down — anyone else? And I couldn’t stand the main characters in the last two — clearly not all protagonists are going to be BFF material but when you can’t find one redeeming quality, it starts to feel like a chore.

  1. Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
  2. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  3. Maestra by L.S. Hilton

 

I would love to hear any recent favorites (or wouldn’t recommends) in the comments! xx

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37 thoughts on “21 BOOKS I LOVED, 5 I LIKED, AND 3 I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND

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  1. Ugh Luckiest Girl Alive was AWFUL. I’m so glad other people felt the same!!! (I also wasn’t a fan of Gone Girl…)

    I not on track to read my usual 52 this year–I’m at about 25… Gotta get on it! Up next for me is Bittersweet, and I really enjoyed The Girls by Emma Cline.

    My recent favorites are:
    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (So sad, but so moving)
    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
    Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offil
    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

  2. Love posts like this! But they are also dangerous since they usually extend my reading list by about 5 books each time. I couldn’t agree with you more about putting Luckiest Girl Alive on your “wouldn’t recommend list”. To this day that is still a book I tell people to stay away from and I read it forever ago!

  3. Good to know about Luckiest Girl Alive, I’ve had that on my list for awhile but haven’t had a chance to read it.

    I been enjoying listening to anything by Lisa Gardener.

  4. I just finished Thr Hopefuls by Jennifer Close and really enjoyed it – so much so that I finished it in one day! I had to quit Lauren Wiseberger’s The Singles Game because it just didn’t capture my attention and reading it became a chore. I’m currently reading The Nest, and Siracusa is next on my reading list!

  5. Mackenzie – Totally agree about Luckiest Girl Alive! Really didn’t like that one at all and it’s on so many “must-read” lists!

  6. I’m SO relieved to hear you didn’t recommend Luckiest Girl Alive either!! I was soooo excited to devour it and I felt like it kept getting worse and worse and the main character development progressed…. Such a disappointment!!
    Excited to look into some of your other recommendations — Gone Girl still holds the title of best book I’ve read for the past few years!
    xx
    Taylor
    http://www.itsthelittlethingsblog.blogspot.com

  7. I love this post! A recent favorite that I read a few weeks ago and still can’t get over is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. On the surface you may think it’s a shallow romance, but I wouldn’t even really classify it as romance. It’s about a girl finding herself and relying on her own strength. A book hasn’t touched me like this in a long time – and the Author’s note at the end of the book was especially eye opening. It’s a book all women should read!

  8. It isn’t new but “The Summer Without Men” by Siri Hustvedt was very good. It gave a great depiction of dealing with elderly family, even though that wasn’t the main topic.
    Another that isn’t very new (2010) is “The Imperfectionists,” by Tom Rachman. If you like a Parisian setting and a very impressionistic (think Jean Cocteau–a couple of lines draw the picture) story line. It was very different, but I liked it.
    Finally, a classic that’s very interesting: The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. It’s one story told four ways. The first is the best, but maybe that’s also because it’s the first. The second is the same story, but with a different character, who says, whoa, that’s not what happened at all–it was like THIS. Fascinating.

  9. I felt the same way about Seriously…I’m Kidding. I finished reading it and promptly donated it. I also loved When Breath Becomes Air!

    If you’re in the market for a good memoir, I just finished The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls and it blew me away. It is also being made into a 2017 movie with Brie Larson as the lead!

  10. Since you’d recommend The Vacationers, I would suggest her new book Modern Lovers. I also really liked The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion. Congrats on reading 30 books too!

  11. If you loved The Vacationers, I highly suggest Emma Straub’s new novel Modern Lovers. It’s written in a similar style as The Vacationers, but a very different story line.

    Also, have you heard of Book of the Month? I’m not usually a fan of subscription boxes, but I love BOTM!

  12. I love everything by Sarah Addison Allen. They’re probably not for everyone, but I find myself being sucked into every single book and reading them again and again!

  13. OMG I could not handle Luckiest Girl Alive. I always tell people not to read it! It’s intensely emotional and the main character is just not my favorite. I recently read Sweetbitter and really loved it, though it’s a bit darker than I usually read. Glad About You was a good read, and the verdict is still out on Truly, Madly, Guilty – I had high hopes, but I don’t think I’d recommend it. Love this roundup!!

  14. I didn’t like Fates & Furies–thought both of the narrators were overly pretentious, as well as the writing!–but I know many people loved it.

  15. Books I loved lately: Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan were both fun with an unexpected plot line. I devoured them! Rachel, an American girl of Chinese descent, finally meets her boyfriend’s family in Singapore and it’s nothing like what she excepted. The whole book is opulent and wonderful. I also really loved The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger (she wrote The Devil Wears Prada, too). It’s about a young professional tennis player trying to make it big. I played tennis and loved that aspect, but the story line and characters are great even if you’re not into tennis. Plus there is a lot of fashion in it, too! I’ve also read 7 out of 8 books of the Outlander series this year and really, really like them. And quite a few on your list as well!

    Books I hated/were WAY overrated: Not Working by Lisa Owens was infuriating because the character development was so poor, and Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave was so predictable I don’t know why I read it. I thought I’d love it because it was about wine, but it was terrible.

  16. I recently read Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and thought it was soo good! Not only is it funny, it’s actually really insightful and interesting to read about how romance and relationships have changed and developed over time. I also finished the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah recently and thought it was amazing! Highly recommend.

  17. Just finished Fool Me Once by Harlen Coben. It’s almost a 400 page book that I flew through in a single day because I literally couldn’t put it down/couldn’t go to sleep (so I had to keep reading)/couldn’t think about anything else.

  18. Thank you for posting! It’s always nice to have a cache of recommendations to go to when I don’t know what I’m going to read next. I have a non-rec for y’all, unfortunately. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware seems to be getting a lot of “the next Gone Girl” praise heaped on it, but unfortunately I found it to be nowhere near that level. Like you said Mackenzie, when none of the characters have any redeeming qualities (and the plot is more contorted than a cirque du solie performer) it’s just not a rewarding experience. I am on to Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson right now and am LOVING it/trying to not look like a crazy person laughing while reading on the subway 🙂

  19. Hated Eligible, the new Pride and Prejudice remake. It was seriously one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I feel like it was written by a high schooler… Jane Steele the new Jany Eyre redo was okay. The first half was much too much like the original but the later half of the book was much better and ended up saving it in my opinion.

    I feel like most of the books I’ve read this year have only been meh. I did read Lessons From Madame Chic which was a lot of fun and I recommend that one. I also read The Small House at Allington by Trollope which was pretty good. Not as quick and fun as Austen but not anywhere near as boring as Middlemarch.

    I’m actually rereading The Secret Garden and I forgot how charming it was!

    1. So glad to hear your take on Eligible. The premise just rubbed me the wrong way from the get go and reviews seemed mixed. Glad to know I can confidently move it off the list!

  20. I’ve been on a Beatriz Williams kick- 100 Summers and Tiny Little Thing were my favorites of hers, but they are all great!